In praise of erudition

September 27, 2014

National’s candidate for Rongatai, Hon Chris Finlayson writes on his campaign for the elucidation of readers of the Spectator:

Every three years in New Zealand, incumbent politicians must hit the campaign trail. Since 2008, I have chased votes in the Rongotai electorate. My Labour opponent, Annette King, has held the seat since 1996. She is a fine parliamentarian, a thoroughly nice person, and also a distant cousin on my mother’s side. ‘Chris says if he wins Rongotai, he’ll ask for a recount,’ she delights in telling voters. This is supposed to be a joke but, under New Zealand’s mixed member proportional voting system, winning individual seats is not the be all and end all. The number of seats a party has in Parliament is determined by a party vote, and local representatives by a separate electorate vote. As a list MP standing in a traditional left seat my job is to maximise the party vote for National.

The Rongotai electorate takes in Wellington’s rugged southern coast, the Miramar Peninsula and the working class suburbs of Newtown and Berhampore, which are fast gentrifying and turning from red to green. Its furthest boundary is the Chatham Islands, an archipelago around 700km from the mainland. It is a place of isolated natural beauty, rich cultural history, abundant fisheries and distinctively salty mutton. On my most recent trip, the twin-propeller plane was struck by lightning and my stay had to be extended by two days. There is no cellular reception in the Chathams, adding to its attractiveness.

The Newtown debate is usually the rowdiest of the campaign. In 2011, I was shoved by an Anglican vicar as I made my way out. This year, there are ten candidates lined up across the stage facing the audience squeezed into a wooden church hall. The crowd has a very particular strand of rule-bound, suburban radicalism: every mention of ‘revolution’ is cheered, but the audience will not allow proceedings to begin while party signs are blocking the fire exits. Along with Annette, the candidates include Russel Norman, a Tasmanian who relocated to New Zealand to work for the Green Party and now, holding the office of Male Co-leader, campaigns against foreign ownership. He finds himself fighting candidates from the populist Conservative and New Zealand First parties for the xenophobe vote. The Newtown audience thinks I am insufferably right wing but also thinks the same about the Greens and Labour. Dr Norman is accused of dismissing victims of sexual assault. Annette King gets a frosty reception for her party’s track record on Maori issues. I am roundly booed when I say the audience is ‘redistributionist’. More popular are a young man dressed as a shark and representing the Climate Party (his contribution to the debate is ‘learn to swim’) and also the candidate for the Patriotic Revolutionary Front. The PRF wants a benevolent dictatorship and has a leaflet showing a composite picture of Stalin and Einstein as its ideal leader. . .

It’s not just what he says but the way that he says it.

Oh to have the ability to write so eruditely, and also to have been a better Latin scholar.

Can anyone translate his quote (in the paragraph which follows the extract I’ve used) from Horace: parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus ?

I tried Google and got the mountains are in labour, security issues. Even without dim memories of third form Latin I would doubt that is what it means.


Feds wary of Greens

September 10, 2014

I’d add Finance to that:


Greens to tax good farmers to clean up after bad

September 8, 2014

The Green Party wants to impose a tax on irrigation water and use it to pay for cleaning waterways:

“The Green Party will also put a charge on the use of water for irrigation in order to drive more efficient use of our precious freshwater resources,” said Dr Norman.

“The OECD, New Zealand Treasury and the Ministry for the Environment have all recommended water charging, yet National is sitting on its hands.

“According to Lincoln University’s Public Perceptions of New Zealand’s Environment 2010 study, New Zealanders, including farmers, are strongly supportive of commercial users being charged for the water they use.

“That’s because freshwaters is a common good, and the use of it for private profit should result in a direct benefit to both the environment and wider community.

Why only farmers then, why not all commercial users which would include power companies, food processors, restaurants and hair dressers?

“We will ring fence the money generated by the irrigation charge for water pollution clean-up initiatives.

Dr Norman said that his policies reward good farmers that are doing the right things, whereas National’s policies incentivise poor practice. . .

He’s wrong there.

The Green Party would tax all irrigators and use the money to clean up after the minority who don’t protect and enhance waterways.

There is no incentive for poor practice now and very expensive penalties for anyone who breaches conditions set by regional councils.

This is just another tax by another left-wing party that wants to fund its promises to spend more with other people’s money.

 


Peters scared of Craig

August 27, 2014

The Queenstown ASB debate between the finance spokespeople for five parties attracted a sell-out crowd last night.

debate

The photo shows, chair Duncan Garner, Finance Minister Bill English for National, Conservative leader Colin Craig, Labour’s David Parker, Act’s Jamie Whyte and Green Russel Norman.

Duncan Garner said that the Maori Party declined the invitation, Mana didn’t reply and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters refused to come if Craig was there.

The chair gave each speaker three minutes to give a pitch then gave them a few questions before taking questions from the floor.

Labour’s trying to campaign on being positive but its finance spokesman started by being negative about the economy and the outlook.

Jamie Whyte started by quoting Adam Smith:

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.

He also asked who’s going to make better decisions – someone putting their own money at risk in search of profit of someone using other people’s money in search of votes?

Duncan Garner asked him to name one Green policy he agreed with and he said he couldn’t think of one.

The question Duncan Garner put to Russel Norman at the end of his three minutes was whether he could say something good about the Finance Minister and he said he’d been very responsible.

Colin Craig rattled through his policy which includes tax cuts at the lower end.

The chair asked him to say whether he’d go with National or Labour if he had the choice after the election. He said National because the party would have the most votes.

Clutha Southland MP Bill English got the biggest welcome from his home crowd.

He started by giving people the credit for their resilience, responsible and work and how important that was because the economy doesn’t just exist in an office in Wellington, it’s what people do.

That, in partnership with National-led government’s careful management of public finances, had put New Zealand back on the right track.

He said we now have a platform built on our resilience the positive encouragement from government and the most positive Prime Minister New Zealand has had that will allow us to have sustainable growth.

“You have set that direction and we can keep it,” he said.

There’s a video of the debate here.


Environment not Green priority

August 20, 2014

The Green Party has confirmed the environment isn’t their priority, it’s their socialist economic and social agenda which matters most.

Green co-leaders Russel Norman and Metiria Turei want to be in a full coalition with Labour and have senior Cabinet positions that reflect their party’s priorities, social justice and the economy. . .

They’ve always denied the accusation of being a watermelon – green on the outside, red inside. But confirming the environment isn’t a priority proves they are.

The thought of Green MPs in senior cabinet positions, and sharing the position of Deputy Prime Minister will not be attractive to many Labour voters and will be even less so to Winston Peters.

Throw Internet Mana and their puppet master Kim Dotcom into the mix and a potential Labour-Green government becomes even more expensive and unstable.


Greens can’t read Budget

August 20, 2014

Oh dear, the Green Party has been trying to claim it’s economically responsible but it can’t even read the Budget:

Russel Norman and the Greens have again confirmed they cannot read Budgets, repeating incorrect claims that the National-led Government is planning multi-billion dollar cuts to health and education spending over the next three years.

“If I was Russel Norman, I’d ask BERL to cancel the invoice for their latest report on behalf of the Greens,” National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“The forecast health and education numbers they quote for future years exclude allocations yet to be made from future annual operating allowances for discretionary spending and they also exclude capital investment allocations.

“These decisions are made by ministers just before each Budget – as they have done under successive governments.

“Typically health and education receive most of this extra discretionary operating spending.”

In Budget 2013, the Vote Health allocation for 2014/15 was in the accounts at $14.1 billion. After Budget 2014 decisions, the total health budget, including discretionary spending and capital investment, was actually $15.6 billion.

“This process happens every year, but Dr Norman obviously doesn’t know that – yet he wants to be finance minister one day.

“Although the Greens are again wrong with their numbers, they also fail to understand that it is the results of spending that matter for New Zealanders – such as lower crime and higher educational achievement.”

The Green Party like others on the left put more emphasis on the amount of spending than the effect.

They measure success by the quantity spent rather than the quality of the spend.

It’s not how much that’s spent it’s how well it’s spent that is helping National make a positive difference and show it’s working for New Zealand.


Labour, Green still anti-dairy

August 7, 2014

Labour could hardly contain its glee at the drop in the prices in yesterday’s GlobalDairyTrade auction:

“Another massive drop in milk prices overnight shows New Zealand needs an Economic Upgrade to limit its overreliance on the dairy industry, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says.

“Since February, milk prices have collapsed by 41 per cent, which suggests the short-lived economic recovery may have already ended. . .

“New Zealand is too reliant on one industry – riding the wave of commodity prices is not a long-term solution to grow jobs and incomes. . .

But while crying crocodile tears over the milk price it was announcing a tax that will hit dairy farmers:

. . . “We believe that the use of water for irrigation is a privilege, not an inalienable right. A resource rental is the best tool for making sure fresh water is used efficiently. However we will support proposals for water storage and irrigation schemes provided they have a broad consensus from their communities.

“Labour will use resource rentals to pay for irrigation schemes rather than paying for them out of tax and asset sales. . .

Individuals and communities already have a say in any water storage and irrigation schemes through the resource consent process.

The initial stages of any irrigation scheme are the most expensive for irrigation companies and water users.

Resource rental is just another name for another tax which will  add costs without benefits, make irrigation schemes less viable, production more expensive and lead to increases in food prices.

The Green Party was equally quick to seize on the fall in dairy prices for political purposes:

Falling dairy prices are highlighting the danger of National’s economic strategy that focuses on the export of a few, simple commodities, the Green Party said today. . .

“National’s economic strategy has simplified our economy and concentrated our exports on a few, low-value-added commodities,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

“National has bet the farm on the farm and it isn’t working. A growing reliance on one or two commodity exports has made our economy more vulnerable to commodity price swings. . .

Both parties either don’t understand or are ignoring the fact that the increase in dairying had nothing to do with government policy.

Farmers made individual decisions on converting farms in response to market signals.

They did so in the knowledge that in the market prices go up and they go down.

They went up last season because demand was high.

They are going down now because supply has increased.

Both parties are also conveniently ignoring the statistics.
Embedded image permalink
Dairy is important but it accounted for only 21% of our exports in 2012 and has gone up only a little since then.

The risk for dairy isn’t current government policies but those a Labour/Green government would impose including a carbon tax:

. . . Agriculture – which is currently exempt from the ETS – would pay a reduced rate of $12.50 per tonne. This works out as an 12.5 per cent hit on farmers’ income. This includes 2 per cent on the working expenses of the average farm. A Berl Economics report, released with the policy, said dairying will be ”adversely affected.”

But it adds: ”However, at the currently projected pay-out for milk solids, even dairy farms in the lowest decile would remain well above break even in the face of an emissions levy.” . .

That payout projection is much lower now.

When he announced the policy, Norman said dairy farmers could afford it.

It wouldn’t be wise to hold your breath while waiting for him to axe that tax because they can’t afford it now.

Labour and the Greens are simply anti-dairy.

They are vociferous about the costs, ignore the benefits and take no notice of the efforts farmers are making to protect and enhance water and soils.


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